Google I/O 2022 is right around the corner, and whether you’re a diehard Android or Pixel fan, there should be at least one announcement worth getting excited about. Since 2008, Google’s used its annual I/O event to announce its biggest software developments of the year. If there’s a breakthrough in Android, Search, Google Cloud, or anything else, Google I/O is where we hear about it first.
While every I/O is important for one reason or another, last year’s gathering brought some particularly huge announcements. From Android 12, Google’s smartwatch partnership with Samsung, digital car key support, Google Photos updates, and the futuristic ‘Project Starline’ holograms., there was a lot to keep track of.
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Considering how strong of a showing Google had with last year’s I/O, how is Google going to one-up itself this year? While nothing’s official until Google says so itself, the rumor mill suggests we’re in for another eventful conference. From big Android updates, new Wear OS features, and possibly a couple of hardware announcements, here’s everything we’re expecting from Google I/O 2022.
It’s all but guaranteed that Android 13 will make an appearance at this year’s I/O. Google released the first developer preview in February, the first public beta in April, and is expected to launch the next beta update during I/O.
Since everything we’ve seen of Android 13 suggests it’ll be an incremental update over Android 12, we aren’t anticipating any surprise design/feature overhauls. What we see in the Android 13 beta today is likely what the final build will look like. That includes a built-in QR code scanner, a Google Search bar in the app drawer, more Material You theme options, and improved smart home controls.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any new Android 13 tidbits from I/O. There have been hints at an upgraded Google Pay/Google Wallet experience, updated Settings pages, and other small UI tweaks. We already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Android 13, but Google I/O 2022 should offer a complete picture of everything it has to offer.
Wear OS 3
Similarly, Google I/O 2022 should give us a few updates on what’s going on with Wear OS 3. Google unveiled Wear OS 3 at I/O 2021, but since then, the only smartwatch we’ve seen with the operating system is the Galaxy Watch 4 — a watch that has very heavy interface tweaks thanks to Samsung’s One UI skin. We still haven’t seen what Wear OS 3 looks like on a non-Samsung smartwatch. Google I/O 2022 should be the place where that changes.
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While the core functionality is likely the same as the Galaxy Watch 4, the ‘normal’ Wear OS 3 software is expected to have a few notable changes. Perhaps the biggest difference is its Fitbit integration. Leaked screenshots heavily suggest Google’s creating a version of Wear OS 3 that tracks data through the Fitbit app. The new Wear OS 3 is also expected to have Google Assistant commands, new tiles/widgets, and a general interface design similar to the Material You theme on Google’s Pixel smartphones.
Speaking of Pixel smartphones, Google I/O 2022 may very well be where we get to see the Pixel 6a. Although I/O is technically a software-focused event, Google frequently uses it to showcase new hardware. Three years after announcing the Pixel 3a at I/O 2019, the Pixel 6a should take the stage at I/O 2022.
According to the latest rumors, the Pixel 6a will be very similar to the regular Pixel 6. It’s reported to have a nearly identical design, the same Google Tensor chipset, 12MP primary + ultra-wide cameras, and a 6.2-inch OLED display (either with a 60 or 90Hz refresh rate). The best part? It’s likely to have a retail price of $449 or $499. The standard Pixel 6 is already one of the best Android values available in 2022, so it’ll be really interesting to see if Google can make an even more compelling offer with the Pixel 6a.
But the Pixel 6a isn’t the only Pixel hardware we could see at Google I/O. Ask any tech leaker around, and they’ll tell you that Google I/O 2022 is where we’ll finally get to see the Google Pixel Watch. Pixel Watch rumors date back to 2016 and 2017 when the Pixel and Pixel 2 (respectively) launched. The idea of a Google-made smartwatch is one that many Android fans have been anticipating for years, and if the rumors turn out to be true, 2022 is the year the Pixel Watch is actually happening.
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As exciting as that is, we aren’t expecting a full announcement or release of the Pixel Watch at Google I/O 2022. Instead, Google will likely offer a small preview of what’s to come later this fall. That is slightly disappointing, but any confirmation from Google that the Pixel Watch is alive and well would still be huge.
As with any Google I/O, the biggest announcements aren’t the ones we expect. Instead, they’re the mystery ones that come out of left field. It’s difficult to keep a secret in the tech world these days, but somehow, Google usually has something big up its sleeve to make people’s jaws drop.
Last year’s surprise announcement was Project Starline — the futuristic hologram system that lets you have lifelike conversations with 3D models of another person. Google shocked folks at I/O 2018 when it used the Google Assistant to call a hair salon and book an appointment for someone. Will Google I/O 2022 have similarly hair-raising news? We’ll just have to wait and see.